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Published 13th March 2007, 11:8am

Commonwealth Day was celebrated in Cayman in style this morning, Monday (13 March), when 26 youth from Cayman 'took over' the Islands' legislature as participants of the second CPA Youth Parliament.

Declaring open the Youth Parliament, the Leader of Government Business, the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts, said, "I am sure I would not be treading on any political toes when I say we are proud to be associated with an event that can only strengthen the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy."

He expressed happiness at the active involvement of the youth in such a venture and observed: "Now they get to see for themselves how the political machinery that drives parliamentary democracy in Cayman works."

Mr. Tibbetts lauded the youth parliamentarians for their enthusiasm in taking the proceedings to two days in order to debate six motions covering timely topics that are of vital interest to the entire community.

Welcoming the youth parliamentarians, the Speaker and President of the Cayman Islands Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Hon. Edna Moyle, noted: "The resurgence of parliamentary democracy is evident in the growth of the CPA with branches existing in 162 national, state, provincial and territorial parliaments, with a total membership of approximately 15,000 parliamentarians."

Mrs. Moyle read out Her Majesty the Queen's Commonwealth Day Message and informed that two students who will be representing Cayman in the Commonwealth Games in Sydney, Australia, will also be representing the Islands in that city at the CPA Headquarters Secretariat observance of Commonwealth Day 2006. Mr Michael Letterlough and Miss Chantelle Day will be representing the Cayman Islands and they too will be discussing the Commonwealth Day theme.

"We wish them well in both the Games and in their participation in the CPA's Commonwealth Day programme in Sydney," the Speaker said.

In his opening remarks, the CI Branch CPA Sub-Committee's Chairman, George Town MLA Mr. Alfonso Wright, explained that since the '90s, the CPA's focus had been widened to include the "promotion of the Commonwealth and parliamentary democracy to young people and has encouraged all Branches to observe Commonwealth Day by participating in parliamentary activities focused on youth."

He continued that CPA Youth Parliaments endeavour to meet the aims of the CPA. These goals are "to assist young people to understand political participation and parliamentary democracy through practical experience of the parliamentary system and to provide participants with an opportunity to acquire or improve upon many skills such as public speaking, debate, presentation, research and organizational skills."

He noted that while one topic for debate was recommended by CPA Headquarters Secretariat in keeping with the Commonwealth Day Theme this year --"Health and Vitality "The Commonwealth Challenge" -- the other five were chosen by the youth parliamentarians.

Following the opening, the youthful participants set about the business of filling the top positions of their parliament and went on to debate two motions - one on HIV/AIDS and the other on the need for a Freedom of Information Bill. Both motions were accepted by their Parliament.